By Kate Harrold
BOMBSHELL proves she’s not just a ‘BARBIE’ after joining the MARINES and being deployed to over ONE-HUNDRED countries.
Combat engineer officer, Brie Burgett (28) from Lancaster, Ohio, USA, graduated university with a double honours degree in political science and international relations aged just 19.
Having graduated at such a young age, Brie struggled to find a suitable job for her. Soon after, she met with several branches of the military and decided to join the Marine Corps in 2011 – making her the youngest woman to be commissioned into the branch at the time.
Many of her peers gave the young blonde a hard time for being a ‘Barbie,’ but Brie set out to prove them wrong. She studied and trained non-stop and the hard work paid off. Brie graduated top of her combat engineering class, obtained the highest female physical fitness test levels in her unit, and earned her black belt in hand to hand combat.
Brie has undertaken several deployments and travelled to an impressive 108 different countries including Japan, Germany and Thailand. Through her varied work, Brianna has worked with governments and militaries all over the world. From constructing schools in the Philippines as part of a humanitarian civic assistance project, to helping partner nations in Africa reach mutually beneficial military engagements – Brie’s work is both challenging and engaging.
“People are typically surprised to learn about my job because I do not look like what most people picture as a Marine,” Brie said.
“I knew [joining the Marines] would be really challenging – physically and mentally – as well as an excellent opportunity to develop leadership skills and gain valuable experiences.
“There are so many extremely driven individuals. Getting to work with these types of people every day is a constant reminder and incentive to keep working hard.
“The opportunities to learn and grow as a leader in a military career is unparalleled. It is hard to imagine a job that could have done that more than the military.”
Brie is conscious of the fact that she is a woman in a male-dominated line of work.
“When I first joined the Marine Corps, I was really uncertain as to how women were received into the ‘gun club’ as well as perceived in military leadership positions,” she said.
“Many times, I was told that I was the first female officer [my colleagues] had worked with, which made it much more important to work hard and set expectations high.
“When I walked into a Marine Corps’ recruiting office, they scoffed at a ‘Barbie’ wanting to join and doubted I would meet the physical scores required.
“Shortly after I became one of the youngest women to ever commission in the US Marine Corps. By the time I made it to the fleet I had both the highest PFT and CFT (physical fitness tests) females from across the Unit.
“One of the biggest issues I have seen in male-dominated workplaces is that too often, women divide themselves and don’t support each other.
“Despite competing with peers throughout training, several of my female friends from the initial Marine Corps training have become some of my closest friends. Years later – after several deployments – we have been there to encourage each other. It is always better to be on the same team.
“As women in the US military have only just begun to be integrated into all combat arms, the progress has been deliberate and feels slow at times.
“It is incredible to see how far things have come. It’s quite exciting to be a part of this round of generational change.”
Brie credits her military experience for teaching her several important life lessons.
“Going the extra mile to learn your field well, really helps you earn respect and build self-confidence,” she said.
“Everyone has something to teach you if you are willing to take the time to recognise it. Sometimes, it is learning a new technique or skill that a subordinate is an expert on and sometimes, it is the senior person in the office that has years of experience.
“Being humble enough to admit that you still have plenty to learn as you progress up the ladder of leadership in the organisation not only make you more approachable, but also creates an environment that encourages innovation.
“Never wait until you feel ready to pursue a goal. There will always be plenty of reasons why it is not the right time. So even if you do not feel ready, take that first step today.”